5 items from 2003
Praised as a risk-taker, Nicole Kidman was awarded the 18th annual American Cinematheque Award Friday night at a dinner in her honor at the Beverly Hilton. But the evening also served as a celebration of the auteur theory, since in accepting the award, Kidman paid tribute to the directors with whom she has surrounded herself -- among them, Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge), Stephen Daldry (The Hours), Robert Benton (The Human Stain) and Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain) -- who also were among those she dubbed her "film family" seated with her at the head table. "I am proud of one thing," Kidman said in acknowledging the tribute, which was presented to her by Adrien Brody, this year's best actor Oscar winner for The Pianist. "It is that I have searched out or I have been searched out by visionaries, and I've surrendered whatever I have to them. Testified Naomi Watts, a 20-year pal of the Australian-born Kidman: "You make audiences absorb and feel. You make actors watch, learn and steal ... You have directors dueling over you and producers crawling over broken glass, begging, 'Say yes.' " Director-producer Sydney Pollack, who co-starred with Kidman in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, noted: "I think Nicole's work in this film is powerful, ingenious and brave ... Stanley adored her." He called it "the start of an amazing growth period for her. ... She's really blossomed and the power of her work has culminated with her being here tonight." Others who rose to praise Kidman included Lauren Bacall and Danny Huston, who co-star with her in the upcoming Birth; fellow actors Stockard Channing, Matt Dillon, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton, Wayne Knight, Natalie Portman and Chloe Sevigny as well as Miramax Films' co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, who said: "Nicole Kidman has been a force for great integrity in my life." »
Friends star Jennifer Aniston joined her TV mom Marlo Thomas in a fashion show on Tuesday night to raise charity cash for sick kids. The actress joined West Wing star Allison Janney, Calista Flockhart, Gabrielle Union and Jennifer Love Hewitt to strut her stuff for Los Angeles' Runway For Life event St. Jude's Research Hospital. Aniston jumped at the chance to help out after Thomas gave her an insight into her own chosen cause. She says, "I went to one of the events and I was hooked straight away. It's a really good cause." Model Rachel Hunter, who also took part in the fashion show, admits she was impressed with Aniston's catwalk skills. She says, "I thought she was very good. I mean I'm an oaf on the catwalk. It wasn't such a big thing back in the day. You need to know what you're doing these days." The event raised $2 million for the charity. »
Friday, May 30
Diving into their most realistic and ambitious setting yet, the talents at Pixar have produced an exhilarating fish story in the perfectly cast comic adventure "Finding Nemo". Not as flat-out inventive as "Monsters, Inc". or as sardonic as "A Bug's Life" and the "Toy Story" pics, "Nemo" finds its own sparkling depths, achieving a less mechanical feel than its predecessors through a stripped-down, fluid narrative and new levels of visual nuance.
Pixar vet Andrew Stanton demonstrates confidence and exuberance in his first stint at the helm, working from a script he co-wrote with Bob Peterson and David Reynolds. With the exception of toddlers who might find a few scary moments too intense, kids will get right into the flow of "Nemo", while those viewers old enough to drive will appreciate the plentiful humor designed to sail right over kids' heads -- not least of which is the inspired chemistry between leads Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres. Disney is primed to make a whale of a splash at the summer boxoffice.
The marine milieu calls for more visual delicacy and aural subtlety than in past Pixar features -- challenges the filmmakers have met through the work of myriad technicians and artists. Before taking poetic license with their CG creations (real fish don't have eyebrows), the animators and designers took lessons in ichthyology (among other things), to good effect. Their imagery captures not only the play of light through the ocean's depths but the texture of its roiling surface and the luminescence and character-defining locomotion of its inhabitants. Add to that Gary Rydstrom's meticulous sound design and the grown-up music score by Thomas Newman, and the result is the most complex and fully realized environment of any Pixar film.
"Nemo" dazzles from the get-go, beginning with a pre-credits sequence that might prove more frightening to parents than kids, dramatizing as it does the notion that bad things can happen even in suburbia. Clown-fish couple Marlin and Coral (Brooks, Elizabeth Perkins) have just moved to a nice, quiet neighborhood of the Great Barrier Reef -- a peaceful vista of jewel-toned sponges, anemones and sea grasses, and a good place to raise their 400 offspring, who will soon be hatching. Tragedy strikes, leaving Marlin widowed with one survivor in the fish nursery, whom he names Nemo and swears to protect always.
It's no wonder that Marlin turns out to be a nervous, overprotective father who follows little Nemo (Alexander Gould) on his first day of, um, fish school. Nemo's a spirited kid with an endearing flaw -- a smaller right fin that flutters constantly -- and a healthy sense of rebellion, which he takes to extremes in Dad's anxious presence, venturing off the reef into open waters. A diver promptly snares him as an exotic specimen.
Propelled by his frantic search for Nemo, Marlin ventures farther than he'd ever dreamed of going, joined by good-hearted blue tang Dory (DeGeneres). She's eager to help and unfazable, the perfect complement to Marlin's neurotic timidity, however exasperating her continual lapses in short-term memory become. They're two lost souls: He provides her with a purpose, and she lends the traumatized Marlin a newfound resilience, as well as being able to read the Sydney address on the mask the diver left behind. Their journey to the big city unfolds as a series of set pieces centering on encounters with would-be predators and helpful sea folk.
Nemo, meanwhile, is welcomed into a community of fish-tank eccentrics in a dentist's office not far from Sydney Harbor. A scarred, self-possessed Moorish idol named Gill (Willem Dafoe) is the only one of Nemo's tank mates who wasn't born in a pet shop, and the wide-eyed youngster inspires him to devise the latest in a long series of ludicrous escape plans. The goal is to get Nemo home before the dentist presents him as a birthday gift to his terror of a niece (LuLu Ebeling), a deliciously funny concoction of Brute Force and braces.
There's a built-in poignancy to the dynamic between son and single father that neither the script nor the actors overstate. That Nemo has no expectation his father will lift a fin to find him is the dark center of the story, setting in bright relief Marlin's every dance with danger as he pursues his stolen child. There's an especially perilous dash through a field of translucent pink jellyfish, culminating in a moment straight out of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", with Marlin struggling to keep Dory from falling into a deadly narcotic sleep. But it's not all rough waters: They also luck into the good vibes of surfer-dude turtles who take them through the East Australian Current. Director Stanton is a standout as sea turtle Crush, a mellow dad who teaches Marlin a lesson or two about the parental art of letting go.
The whole cast is aces, with turns from such vibrant talents as Barry Humphries, playing the repentant leader of a self-help group for sharks who are trying to beat the fish-eating habit, and John Ratzenberger as an annoyingly helpful bunch of moonfish showoffs. Geoffrey Rush voices a Sydney pelican who's well-versed in dental procedure, Allison Janney is a vigilant starfish, and Joe Ranft provides a French accent for a finicky shrimp.
But it's the give-and-take between DeGeneres and Brooks that gives the saga its big heart. DeGeneres' character was created with her in mind, so it makes sense that Dory is a fish with freckles, lips and a rueful smile. When, in an episode of lovely, freewheeling lunacy, she insists on communicating with a blue whale in its native language, the combination of vocal calisthenics and facial contortions is sublime.
Her goofy compassion would have only half the impact, however, without Brooks' contrasting nebbish-turned-hero. It's hard to imagine another actor who could deliver lines as angst-ridden and deliriously funny. This is, after all, the tale of a father who not only transcends fear to find his son against all odds but who learns how to tell a joke along the way.
Buena Vista Pictures
A Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios film
Director: Andrew Stanton
Co-director: Lee Unkrich
Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Original story by: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Graham Walters
Executive producer: John Lasseter
Directors of photography: Sharon Calahan, Jeremy Lasky
Production designer: Ralph Eggleston
Music: Thomas Newman
Editor: David Ian Salter
Supervising technical director: Oren Jacob
Supervising animator: Dylan Brown
Art directors: Ricky Vega Nierva, Robin Cooper, Anthony Christov, Randy Berrett
Sound designer: Gary Rydstrom
Marlin: Albert Brooks
Dory: Ellen DeGeneres
Nemo: Alexander Gould
Gill: Willem Dafoe
Bloat: Brad Garrett
Peach: Allison Janney
Gurgle: Austin Pendleton
Bubbles: Stephen Root
Deb (& Flo): Vicki Lewis
Jacques: Joe Ranft
Nigel: Geoffrey Rush
Crush: Andrew Stanton
Coral: Elizabeth Perkins
Squirt: Nicholas Bird
Mr. Ray: Bob Peterson
Bruce: Barry Humphries
Anchor: Eric Bana
Chum: Bruce Spence
Dentist: Bill Hunter
Darla: LuLu Ebeling
Tad: Jordy Ranft
Pearl: Erica Beck
Sheldon: Erik Per Sullivan
Fish School: John Ratzenberger
Running time -- 100 minutes
MPAA rating: G »
The West Wing star Allison Janney celebrated her Emmy nomination by immediately going out to buy her dress for the ceremony. Bucking the trend of the large majority of her counterparts, who normally choose from rows of frocks just hours before the prestigious event, Janney decided to make her purchase in New York as soon as she heard the good news on Thursday. The actress, who this year received her fourth nomination, says, "I feel much more relaxed and on the ground about this whole thing now. I had a fantastic day when I found out I was nominated - I went right to Badgley Mishka on the same day and found my dress. It's taken care of - I'm totally relaxed and I know what I'm wearing. It never happens like that. It's usually the week before the show that I'm frantically tearing through dresses and it's very hectic. But this time it just worked out so beautifully." Janney's early preparation means she'll have to wait until September 21 before she can show off her outfit at the Los Angeles ceremony. »
"Six Feet Under" drove HBO to its personal-best Emmy nominations haul Thursday, leading the list of contenders for the second year in a row with a total of 16 noms, including bids for best drama series and acting noms for stars Peter Krause, Frances Conroy, Rachel Griffiths and Lauren Ambrose. "Six Feet", combined with the return of "The Sopranos" and another strong showing from "Sex and the City", helped HBO tote up 109 nominations, besting the pay TV network's previous record of 94 noms in 2001. "Across the board, in every category that we're entered in, we've had our strongest performance as a network," HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht said. "There are so many networks that are working very hard to put forth provocative programming that to see us getting acknowledged for such a broad cross section of our work, that's what makes us most proud." NBC, which remains the all-time Emmy noms champ with 149 bids in 1986, ran second and led the broadcast nets with 77 contenders for the 55th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Meanwhile, NBC's "The West Wing", the reigning best drama series winner, ran a close second to "Six Feet" with 15 noms, including best series, lead actor (Martin Sheen) and lead actress (Allison Janney, who won her category last year). Rounding out the best drama series nominees circle were HBO's "The Sopranos", CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and Fox's "24." The biggest surprise for the bleary-eyed industryites who attended the 5:38 a.m. nominations announcement Thursday was the snub of NBC's "Law & Order." The veteran series had been in the running for its 12th consecutive drama series nomination, which would have broken the record for most consecutive best series nominations that it shares with "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers". »
5 items from 2003
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